Thursday, September 26, 2013

Queen of Peace

The sun had moved into the western sky so it was time to move to the other side of the scene at St. Brendan's Catholic Church. The tour boat cruised into view just as I was composing that portion of the painting. The Queen of Peace and the empty bench were firmly positions on the bald piece of Rockport granite. The few patches of stratocumulus clouds over New York State were also an attraction for me to play with this scene. It was a fun way to finish off the day before the Plein Air Cruise of the Thousand Islands and dinner.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

33 Front Street, Rockport

It was time to shift gears and try something architectural. This historic Rockport home was built by a ship builder. The inside is graced by wooden ceilings and finely crafted wood arches for doorways. The type of workmanship and attention to detail is largely a thing of the past. The shadow of the large white oak in front of me kept time like a sun dial. A pair of crows carried on a very intelligent conversation as they tossed small twigs down to the ground and probably ate the occasional acorn. This is why one paints en plein air. A patron came by and wanted to purchase it on the spot. I still had to sign my name and photograph it for the records... and to be fare to other patrons.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Reflecting on St. Brendan

Saturday dawned under clear skies and the sun was warm on my back. Standing "on the dock of the bay" was more of a choice of comfort than a choice for composition. I guess that I was still chilled from Friday's cold front.

I decided on an unusual subject that focussed on the Rockport granite and the reflection of St. Brendan's Catholic Church and the Queen of Peace. My goal was to capture the morning colours and the motion in both the water and the rocks. Rocks do move...  I also wanted to feel the sun on my back... The titles for paintings often reveal themselves during the painting process and I enjoy a bit of humour even if they are puny.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Rockport Turbulent Stratocumulus

"You must not blame me if I do talk to the clouds." - Henry David Thoreau.

As well, don't blame me for wanting to paint clouds every day. Every cloud is different and each tells a story of how, why and when they appeared in front of you. Many people are too busy to enjoy these simple pleasures of the world around you. We need to slow down and live in the moment. If that means talking and painting to clouds, then that is enough for me.

The chilly northwesterly winds behind cold front number three lifted the moisture from the frontal precipitation through turbulent mixing. The cloud bases are ragged and low to the ground and are thickest over rough terrain - like the hills of the Canadian Shield and the Frontenac Arch Biosphere. These clouds would thin overnight as the winds subsided and a drier air mass moved across the landscape. Saturday would dawn under clear skies. The September sun would be strong enough to warm the air and make a perfect fall day.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Black Walnut Trees

There are many wise sayings about trees. My favourite is “The Best Time to Plant a Tree is Ten Years Ago”. This simple phrase hits on the point that planting a tree is always a good thing and don’t procrastinate in doing so.
Today would have been my Dad's 89th birthday. He planted trees and especially liked black walnuts. He was responsible for the forest of black walnuts that we left at the crest of the Oak Ridges Moraine.
On Monday November 10th, 2008 I followed in my Dad's footsteps and planted 2 and a half bushels of black walnuts at Singleton Lake. I figure there were about 400 nuts more or less. Nothing grew - or so I had thought. This fall when I was caring for the forest, the small black walnuts stood out like beacons among the drying grasses. I figure there are around 75 trees... maybe more. I have already protected them with mouse guards and ran out... It will be a magnificent forest.

Rockport Shore

After finishing"St. Brendan's" (the previous Blog entry) I turned the easel to look southwest along the channel of the St Lawrence River. There is inspiration everywhere and you need to merely turn around to enjoy it. It was still chilly and windy.

Monday, September 16, 2013

St. Brendan's

This was the first morning of the IPAP World-Wide Paint Out - Rockport in the heart of the Thousand Islands Edition. We had more than 20 artists participating in the creative fun. Tourists attracted by the several boat tours stayed to watch the artists.

This is the view from the Dock of the Cornwall Boathouse Tavern looking across the bay toward St. Brendan's Roman Catholic Church (1891). The church was named after the Irish monk St. Brendan the Voyager (848-578) who reportedly reached North America over 900 years before Columbus. Sailors have adopted him as their patron saint. I thought maybe we could adopt him as a patron saints of free-spirited artists as well. That is the "Queen of Peace" statue to the left standing on top of the granite cliff.

It was a chilly morning after the cold front the previous evening. The sun never really peaked through the thick layer of turbulent stratocumulus clouds.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Turtle Hatch 2013

Earlier I wrote about building protectors for turtle nests around Singleton Lake. The wooden protectors were very successful. The skunks and raccoons were reluctant to lift them even though they easily could.
Well the hatch has finally begun a few days after the forecast. Some of the nests appear to be dry wells - the mother turtle apparently thought she was in labour but after going to the work of digging the deep hole, discovered that no eggs were forthcoming. I investigated a few of these nests only to find "nothing".
This little northern map turtle was headed the wrong way about 50 metres from the lake. I gave it a free ride to the lake shore after taking its picture.
The stink pot turtle nest is still quiet but I know there are eggs in that one. They were due to hatch on September 2nd.

Monday, September 9, 2013

ArtRadio - Best Art of the Day

Date: 09 September 2013 13:28... Hi Phil,
The team have looked through your portfolio over at and would like to let you know you've won our, "Best art of the Day" award. Congratulations, we've written a short piece about you and featured it on our blog section via the following link:
Feel free to share this with your friends and family. We have also featured your work on our facebook page at
Thank you for creating and sharing with us at :)

My response...
Thank you so much... as an artist I just want to make the next effort better than the last. Sometimes it works out. Art and life are both journeys and we should enjoy the ride as much as possible!
Thanks again for the honour from ArtRadio
Currently I am stewing down tomatoes instead of painting....

Friday, September 6, 2013

Brockville-Birthplace of the Canadian Flag

The picture kind of sums it all up. That is Bob Harper, Chair of the 50 Years of Our Flag Committee on the left and  Dave Paul, Economic Development Director for the City of Brockville. Brockville is officially recognized as the “Birthplace of the Canadian Flag”. The supporting evidence is really very convincing. Visit  for just some of this evidence. More is coming.

Steve Clark, MPP Leeds-Grenville introduced Bill 57, a Private Member’s Bill to the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Ontario that recognizes Brockville, Ontario as the birthplace of the national flag of Canada.  “It was an honour to introduce Bill 57 in recognition of how integral the Honourable John Ross Matheson and the City of Brockville were to the birth of Canada’s National Flag,” said Leeds-Grenville MPP Steve Clark. “This is a very important part of the city’s heritage and something unique for us to celebrate. I’m so proud of the work the 50 Years of our Flag Committee is doing to tell this story and it’s a privilege to be part of those efforts.” A similar Private Member’s Bill is ready to go to the Parliament of Canada. 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Morning Light

It was a beautiful morning. The sun felt really nice on my back with some front lit, scattered rows of altocumulus in the northwest sky. The westerly wind was fairly brisk and cool but that was more than offset by the sun.

I knew that a cold front was due to cross the lake during the evening but I didn't expect the overcast deck of nimbostratus so soon. I lost my light and it was replaced by rain. There is nothing like the weather to hurry a plein air painter along. Fortunately I had laid in the colours before the cloud had completely obscured the sky. I was most interested in the colours of the different varieties of trees and how the light poked through the forest canopy. I was done before the rain pushed me inside where I signed my name.

IPAP Worldwide Paintout in Rockport - Friday September 13th through Sunday 15th, 2013

Click on the link above for registration and details about the 3rd Annual Rockport Plein Air Paint Out, Rockport, Friday September 13th through Sunday 15th, 2013. Proudly sponsored by The Rockport Development Group. Let's have some fun painting. The really long range weather forecast looks great!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

September Sky 2013

The cold front had passed through Singleton Lake the previous evening switching the seasons in just a couple of hours. Summer vanished into fall and the skies changed as well. Brisk westerly winds ushered in a colder and drier brand of air.

The unstable air mass sponsored turbulent stratocumulus. From the ground it was challenging to see how these cloud streets were organized. They were certainly chaotic. The bases of these clouds are not as even or as flat as cumulus clouds. Turbulent mixing lifts the moisture to saturation. These clouds were back lit causing them to be brightest around their edges and darkest in the middle. There were a lot of colours in these clouds and I had fun with them. The sun broker through for a minute and that was the instant I stroked in the sun glint on the west basin of the lake. Otherwise the water was shaped by "wind drifts" and small waves. Occasional shafts of light lit up the trees.